Swift vs. Objective-C: Choosing the Right Language for iOS Development

Explore the differences between Swift and Objective-C for iOS development. Discover which language is best suited for your iOS app development needs.
iOS Development Languages

Welcome to the world of iOS app development! If you’re just starting out, you may have heard about two programming languages: Swift and Objective-C. Both of these languages are used to build applications for Apple’s iOS devices, but they have some key differences.

In this article, we’ll explore Swift and Objective-C in detail to help you determine which language is the right choice for your iOS development journey. We’ll dive into their popularity and usage, language features and performance, ease of learning and use, the job market, and the pros and cons of both languages.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each language, making it easier for you to make an informed decision on which one to pursue. So let’s get started and find out which language will be your ticket to the exciting world of iOS app development!

Popularity and Usage

When it comes to choosing a programming language for iOS development, it’s essential to consider the popularity and usage of the language. Here’s a breakdown of the popularity and usage of Swift and Objective-C:

Use in Google Searches

  • Swift is slightly more popular than Objective-C, with 2.28% of Google searches compared to 2.26%. This indicates that more developers are actively seeking information and resources on Swift.

Usage in New Projects vs. Maintaining Existing Apps

  • Most developers are starting new projects in Swift. The language offers modern features and a more streamlined syntax, making it attractive for developers who want to build cutting-edge iOS applications.
  • On the other hand, Objective-C is commonly used to maintain existing apps, especially those that have been developed before Swift was introduced. Many developers prefer to stick with Objective-C to avoid the effort of rewriting an entire app in Swift.

Use in the Same Project

It’s worth noting that 62% of developers use both Swift and Objective-C in the same project. However, in these cases, Swift is typically the dominant codebase. This allows developers to take advantage of Swift’s advanced features while still utilizing Objective-C for interoperability with existing codebases.

In summary, Swift has gained popularity among iOS developers and is the preferred choice for new app development projects. However, Objective-C still holds value for maintaining existing apps and offers interoperability with Swift in the same project. The next section will delve into the language features and performance of both languages, which can further aid in deciding the right language for iOS development.

“Swift is quickly becoming the go-to language for new iOS app development projects, thanks to its advanced features, ease-of-use, and efficiency.”

Language Features and Performance

When choosing a programming language for iOS development, it’s important to consider the language features and performance of each option. In this section, we will explore the differences between Swift and Objective-C in terms of variables and data types, memory management, speed and performance, interfacing capabilities, and string manipulation.

Variables and Data Types

  • Objective-C: In Objective-C, variables can hold any type of value. This dynamic typing feature provides flexibility but can also introduce errors if not carefully managed.
  • Swift: On the other hand, Swift has fixed data types, which ensures type safety and helps catch errors at compile-time. This feature makes code more readable and less prone to bugs.

Memory Management

  • Objective-C: Objective-C uses reference counting for memory management. Developers need to explicitly manage the memory by retaining and releasing objects.
  • Swift: In contrast, Swift has automatic reference counting (ARC) which handles memory management for you. It also introduces features like lazy initialization that reduce memory usage.

Speed and Performance

  • Objective-C: Objective-C has been the primary language for iOS development for many years, and it is well-optimized for performance. However, it may not be as fast as Swift.
  • Swift: Apple claims that Swift is 2.5 to 2.6 times faster than Objective-C due to its advanced features and optimizations. This can result in more responsive and efficient apps.


  • Objective-C: Objective-C can easily interface with C++ code, which can be useful when integrating existing C++ libraries into your iOS app.
  • Swift: On the other hand, Swift can only interface with Objective-C classes. This limitation means that you may need to write a bridge to communicate with C++ code if you decide to use Swift.

String Manipulation

  • Objective-C: String manipulation in Objective-C can be a bit cumbersome, requiring more code and effort compared to other modern programming languages.
  • Swift: Swift offers huge improvements over Objective-C in terms of string manipulation. Its syntax is simpler and more intuitive, making string manipulation tasks easier and more efficient.

Overall, Swift offers many language features and performance enhancements over Objective-C. Nonetheless, Objective-C has its advantages, especially when it comes to interfacing with C++ code. It’s important to consider your specific project requirements and goals when deciding between the two languages for your iOS development.

“Swift has better memory management features, including lazy initialization, reducing memory usage.”
Swift Documentation

Ease of Learning and Use

When it comes to learning a new programming language, ease of use and learning curve are important factors to consider, especially for beginners. So how does Swift compare to Objective-C in terms of learning and ease of use?

Swift is Easier to Learn and Read

One of the biggest advantages of Swift over Objective-C is its simplicity and readability. Swift’s syntax is more concise and streamlined, making it easier to understand and write code. Here’s why Swift is considered easier to learn and use:

    • Shorter Syntax: Swift has a shorter and more expressive syntax compared to Objective-C. This means that developers can write code more quickly and with fewer lines of code. The concise syntax makes it easier to understand and maintain code.

“When I started learning iOS development, I found Swift to be much easier to grasp compared to Objective-C. The syntax is cleaner and more modern, which made the learning process smoother.” – John, iOS Developer

    • Faster Coding and Testing: Due to its simpler syntax, Swift allows for faster coding and testing. Developers can write code more efficiently, which leads to a more productive development process. This is especially beneficial for developers working on tight deadlines.

“I love using Swift because it enables me to write code faster. The syntax is intuitive, and I spend less time debugging and more time focusing on building great apps.” – Sarah, iOS Developer

    • Active Community Support: Swift has a vibrant and active developer community, which means there are plenty of resources and support available for learning and troubleshooting. Online tutorials, forums, and libraries are readily available, making it easier for beginners to get started with Swift.

“Whenever I encounter a problem while coding in Swift, I can easily find solutions and support from other developers. The community is very helpful, and that makes the learning process much easier.” – Michael, iOS Developer

These factors make Swift a great choice for beginners and developers who want to quickly get started with iOS development. However, it’s worth noting that Objective-C still has a significant presence in the iOS development community, so learning Objective-C may be beneficial in some cases.

In conclusion, Swift’s simplicity and intuitive syntax make it easier to learn and use compared to Objective-C. Aspiring iOS developers and those looking to switch from another language will find Swift to be a welcoming and beginner-friendly choice.

Job Market and Salary

When considering which programming language to learn for iOS development, it’s important to take into account the job market and potential salary prospects. Here’s a closer look at the job market for Swift and Objective-C developers, as well as the average salary ranges for each language.

Objective-C Job Market and Salary

Objective-C has been the primary language for iOS development for many years. As a result, there is still a demand for Objective-C developers, especially for maintaining existing apps that were built using this language. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Higher Percentage of Job Postings: Objective-C still has a higher percentage of job postings compared to Swift, indicating that there is still a demand for developers with Objective-C skills in the job market.
  • Median Salary: The median salary for Objective-C developers is around $99,000 per year, according to industry reports. However, it’s important to note that salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and company size.

Swift Job Market and Salary

Swift has gained significant popularity since its introduction in 2014 and has become the preferred language for new iOS app development. Here are some key points to consider regarding the job market and salary prospects for Swift developers:

  • Growing Demand: With the increasing adoption of Swift by developers and companies, the demand for Swift developers is also on the rise. Many new projects are being built using Swift, creating job opportunities for developers with Swift skills.
  • Competitive Salaries: The salary range for Swift developers can vary depending on the location and experience. However, in general, Swift developers can expect to earn a competitive salary that is comparable to Objective-C developers.

It’s important to keep in mind that job market trends and salaries can change over time, so it’s always a good idea to stay updated on the latest developments in the iOS development landscape.

In conclusion, both Objective-C and Swift offer job opportunities and competitive salaries for iOS developers. Objective-C is still in demand for maintaining existing apps, while Swift is becoming the go-to language for new iOS app development projects. Ultimately, the choice between the two languages should be based on factors such as personal preferences, project requirements, and the current job market trends.

Pros and Cons of Both Languages

When it comes to choosing between Swift and Objective-C for iOS development, there are several pros and cons to consider. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of each language:

Pros and Cons of Swift:

Pros of Swift:

  • Swift is becoming the go-to language for new iOS app development projects. Its popularity can be attributed to its advanced features, ease-of-use, and efficiency.
  • Swift has a cleaner and more modern syntax compared to Objective-C. Its syntax is shorter and easier to grasp, making it easier for beginners to learn.
  • The simplicity of Swift allows for faster coding and testing experience. Developers can write code more quickly, resulting in increased productivity.

Cons of Swift:

  • One of the main drawbacks of Swift is its compatibility. Since it is a relatively new language, some older iOS devices may not support it. This means you may have to continue using Objective-C in certain cases to maintain compatibility.
  • Swift is still evolving, which means updates are frequent. This can be both a pro and a con, as it brings new features and improvements, but also requires developers to stay updated and adapt to changes.

Pros and Cons of Objective-C:

Pros of Objective-C:

  • Objective-C has been around for a long time and has a large community of developers. This means there are more resources, tutorials, and libraries available for developers to use.
  • Objective-C offers a lightweight runtime, which can lead to efficient execution. It has a mature and stable codebase, making it reliable for large-scale projects.
  • Objective-C can interface directly with C++, which opens up possibilities for developers to leverage existing C++ libraries and tools.

Cons of Objective-C:

  • Objective-C has a steep learning curve, especially for developers who are new to programming or coming from a different programming language. Its syntax can be confusing and verbose, making it more challenging to read and maintain.
  • Objective-C lacks some of the advanced features found in Swift. It does not have native support for features like optionals, generics, or pattern matching, which can make code more complex and error-prone.
  • Objective-C is considered an older language, and its tools and properties may not be as modern or efficient as those found in Swift.

Ultimately, the choice between Swift and Objective-C boils down to your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as project requirements, team expertise, and compatibility with existing code when making your decision. Both languages have their strengths and weaknesses, so choose the one that aligns best with your goals and resources.


In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between Swift and Objective-C for iOS development, there are several factors to consider.

Swift is gaining popularity due to its advanced features, simplicity, and efficiency. It has a more intuitive syntax, making it easier to learn and read compared to Objective-C. With Swift, developers can code and test faster, leading to improved productivity.

On the other hand, Objective-C has been around for a long time and is still widely used in maintaining existing apps. It offers a lightweight runtime, leading to efficient execution. However, it may lack some of the modern tools and properties found in Swift.

Ultimately, the choice between Swift and Objective-C depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you’re starting a new project, Swift may be the way to go. If you’re working on maintaining existing apps or have experience with Objective-C, sticking with it may be the best option.

Regardless of the language you choose, How To Code is here to help you learn and master programming languages. With our wide range of tutorials and coding resources, you can enhance your skills and stay up to date with the latest technologies. Happy coding!

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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the main differences between Swift and Objective-C?Swift is a modern, fast, and safer programming language, whereas Objective-C is an older language that has been used for iOS development for many years. Swift has a simpler syntax, better performance, and offers more features, while Objective-C has a larger existing codebase and library support.
  2. Which language should I choose for iOS development, Swift or Objective-C?The choice between Swift and Objective-C depends on various factors, such as your familiarity with the language, project requirements, and future compatibility. Swift is recommended for new projects as it is the future of iOS development and offers advantages like improved performance and safety.
  3. Can I mix Swift and Objective-C in the same iOS project?Yes, you can mix Swift and Objective-C in the same iOS project. Apple provides interoperability between the two languages, allowing you to use Swift code in Objective-C files and vice versa. This allows developers to migrate code gradually and utilize the strengths of both languages.
  4. Is learning Objective-C necessary if I want to develop iOS apps with Swift?Learning Objective-C is not necessary to start developing iOS apps with Swift, as Swift is capable of handling all iOS development tasks. However, having a basic understanding of Objective-C can be beneficial when working with existing Objective-C code or libraries.
  5. Will Apple stop supporting Objective-C in the future?While Apple is heavily promoting Swift, they have not announced any plans to stop supporting Objective-C. Objective-C has a large codebase and is still widely used, so it is likely to be supported by Apple for the foreseeable future. However, Swift is the direction Apple is actively investing in and encouraging developers to adopt.
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